The toughest thing in the world is being church-not doing what we think the work of church is, but being church, belonging to one another. â€œThat they may be made perfectly oneâ€ was the deepest longing of Jesus, and, well, look at us. The emphasis always begins to shift to the vision, to the program, and we get away from the essence.
—Gordon Cosby, from Church of the Saviour Briefs at Theoblogical (from an interview in Sojourners by Jim Wallis)
This is the great gap; the difference between the church as it exists in most places, and the church that God has called together. This “togetherness” is completely different from the “consumer” model of church; from the model that seeks to be as attractive as possible. The church, rather, needs to be about procaliming abd BEING the good news; but it is NOT a GOOD NEWS in the sense that if it is not EASY, then it must be somehow “off”.
For instance, Gordon also says:
what weâ€™re talking about is much closer to the biblical conception of church than a model that doesnâ€™t confront the culture, doesnâ€™t present an alternative consciousness, and doesnâ€™t oppose the system. If youâ€™ve got a group that calls itself church, Christian church, and doesnâ€™t oppose and confront the culture, I donâ€™t think you have a New Testament church no matter how much you respect the people.
What I ACTUALLY hear in churches as I “observe” and “mill around” (and “hoping” for some “opening” where I can perhaps discover someone else with a similar vision of church) ….what I usually hear is a lot of idle chatter about the things “going on” that are a part of the wider, more “central” and dominant culture. Vacations we’ve taken, Titans games, TV Shows. It’s all too often as if “after the service” we vacate the place and “get on with the rest of the week” .
In the COS churches (they are several communities now, describing themselves as “in the Church of the Saviour tradition”), the work and liffe of the church IS central. Of course this doesn’t mean that there is NEVER talk of “vacations and ball games”; of course there is; but such conversations occur in a place where it is OBVIOUS that here is a people whose lives are intertwined, and who take seriously the role of challenging and BEING a challenge to the culture, and seeking to reform each other and reclaim ourselves from addictions to the culture.